NORMAN — Kay Antinoro, a member of St. Stephen's United Methodist Church, has taken part in the CROP Walk to Stop Hunger for as long as it has been in Norman, and now the walk is a tradition shared by three generations of her family.
“I can remember when my daughter first walked it when she was 2 years old,” Antinoro said. “Today, she's here with her own kids.”
The three-mile hike on Sunday raised money and awareness for the issue of hunger in the community and around the world. It drew about 400 participants, organizers said.
The walk serves as a reminder that in some places, foot travel is the primary means of transportation. Basic necessities like food, water and medicine are not readily available. In a country where retail stores are on every other corner, easy access to these resources is often taken for granted.
CROP stands for Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty. One-fourth of the money raised by the annual CROP Walk goes to support Food and Shelter's effort to provide meals and assistance to those in need in Norman.
The rest of the money is given to Church World Service, the parent organization that founded the walk. The organization provides disaster relief, food, refugee assistance and educational aid in more than 80 countries worldwide, including the United States.
Church World Service was among the groups that responded when tornadoes ripped through Moore and Shawnee in May, destroying dozens of homes.
In the wake of the tornadoes, many food banks in Oklahoma were depleted. As a result, this year's walk included a nonperishable food drive conducted by volunteers to replenish food pantries.
Local musical groups including the Manyawi Children's World Music Ensemble, based at Monroe Elementary School, performed. Walkers were sent off with the South African hymn “Siyahamba,” or, in English, “we are marching.”
In the past 10 years, Norman's CROP Walk has raised more than $150,000, organizer Karen Buntin said. Last year alone, it brought in $18,000.
Each year the event grows, she said.
More than 20 churches signed up to participate this year, as well as multiple university groups, a senior group and a mother's day out club, Buntin said.
“It is truly a group effort,” Buntin said. “We can reach so many more people by working together.”